Georginio Wijnaldum has expressed his regret over the way he left Liverpool, believing the Anfield club didn’t want to keep him.
Wijnaldum, 30, saw his contract on Merseyside expire at the end of the summer, and the Dutchman subsequently joined Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer.
Initially brought in from Newcastle in a £23m deal in 2016, Wijnaldum was the heartbeat of Jurgen Klopp’s midfield for five seasons as the Reds won the Champions League and sealed their first ever Premier League title.
The free-scoring midfielder’s dynamism and athleticism encapsulated the high-octane style of Klopp’s system, and those qualities will be sorely missed as the club look to wrestle the Premier League trophy back off Manchester City.
Since joining PSG, Wijnaldum has shuffled across the midfield as Mauricio Pochettino looks to find a winning formula among his star-studded squad, which also added Achraf Hakimi, Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Nuno Mendes and of course Lionel Messi in the summer.
Wijnaldum has now opened up on his departure from Liverpool, suggesting he never wanted to leave the club, but that he got the impression from the makers and shakers that he was no longer wanted.
“You follow your feeling,” he told L’Equipe. “Several months ago, I had expressed the desire to stay in Liverpool but, without going into details, Liverpool did not give me the feeling of wanting to keep me.
“In these cases, we have to move forward.”
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Liverpool’s midfield without Wijnaldum
Klopp’s famed midfield trident was held together by the robustness of Wijnaldum as a progressive No. 8, but the German has remedied his departure in these opening weeks by testing out four different combinations in four separate matches.
James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita got the ball rolling in the 3-0 win over Norwich in a very experimental midfield trio, while Harvey Elliott was given the nod against Burnley, making his first start alongside Jordan Henderson, with Keita retained.
Then in the 1-1 draw with Chelsea, Klopp went with a Fabinho-Henderson-Elliott triumvirate, and most recently Fabinho-Thiago-Elliott, with the latter, of course, suffering that freak accident after a lunging challenge from Pascal Struijk in the Leeds win, with the teenager now set to go under the knife.
So, it is not yet clear what Klopp’s preferred midfield combination is at this point, but we should get a clearer indication over the next week as Liverpool tee off their Champions League campaign against AC Milan and then face an in-form Crystal Palace at home.